Easy Dessert Secret Weapon: Mascarpone

If there's one ingredient I like to have stashed in the fridge at all times, it's creamy mascarpone cheese. I mentioned it being my 'secret weapon' earlier this week and here's why.

Mascarpone is a rich cow's milk cheese that is deeply buttery and soft. It has the sturdiness and body of cream cheese, but has a more nuanced tang and a softer feel. It's extraordinary stuff and is sure to wow, in a variety of settings.

I love mascarpone for its deceptively 'light' creaminess and the way it melts into things. Also, guests usually can't quite put their finger on what this lovely, silken smooth, glorious substance is.

Here are a few of the ways I use mascarpone to dress up simple desserts.

Mascarpone Ideas
• Put a dollop on top of bread pudding right out of the oven, it mellows perfectly into the crusty bits.
• Sauté a diced mango in a little nob of butter and tablespoon of brown sugar, for about 5 minutes, until fruits become fragrant. Spoon a small blob of mascarpone onto each serving and watch your guests melt.
• Spread a little mascarpone on the tops of store–bought shortbread cookies, topping with a squeeze of agave nectar or honey. You'll kick those cookies up about a million notches.
• Any type of warm fruit pie will welcome a bit of mascarpone!

Mascarpone is a great deviation from crème fraiche and whipped cream. Have you tried it? How do you use it in your home cooking?

Related: Mascarpone: An Honorary Mention

(Image: Leela Cyd Ross)

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